27 Pollies spy and we pay
VOTERS are paying more than $1 million so political parties can spy on them.
A Sunday Herald Sun investigation has revealed federal Labor and Coalition politicians have made hundreds of “software reimbursement” claims since the last federal election.
The software enables voters’ private details to be crossmatched to create a list of “perusable” people to target during election campaigns.
The data includes private electoral roll details, Facebook profiles and landline phone numbers, as well as mobile numbers and email addresses gathered from petitions.
“Not only is this happening, you are paying for it,” a former Labor frontbencher said.
At the 2016 federal election, the ALP’s system identified two million people who were then “micro-targeted”.
An analysis of Labor MPs and senators found they claimed $356,000 for software in the two years to June 2018. The Coalition bill was $322,000.
Labor’s software provider is called Campaign Central and crossmatches electoral roll, social media data and homephone details so swinging voters in marginal seats can be targeted with “robo” calls which deliver scripted party messages over the phone. Campaign Central didn’t start as a tool of “persuasion”, a former top party official said, but that’s what it was becoming.
The Coalition uses Parakeelia, which describes itself as a “database management and market research” company.
The Victorian branch of the Liberal Party has recently begun paying for the services of US company i360, which says it uses advanced algorithms to “generate the most accurate, individual-level predictions” available.
SA federal MP Rebekha Sharkie of the Centre Alliance has called for an inquiry into major parties’ data-mining after i360 was used against her in the recent Mayo by-election.
Her spokeswoman said Ms Sharkie believed i360 was behind the Liberals raising “random” issues during the campaign, such as asylum seekers. “People don’t like being spied on,” her spokeswoman said.
Experts say political parties should lose their exemption from privacy and spamming laws.
University of Sydney professor of political sociology Ariadne Vromen said after the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in the US, Australian political parties and activists “all need to think about whether they are respecting the digital privacy of the people they are targeting”. Facebook and i360 did not respond to requests for comment.